Wednesday: Hili dialogue

April 13, 2022 • 7:00 am

Good morning on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, a Hump Day, or, as they say in Arabic: يوم الحدبة.  It’s National Peach Cobbler Day, a treat you’re most likely to find in the American South, as well as Holy Wednesday (clearly we’re coming up on Easter), Scrabble Day, and Thomas Jefferson Day.

Wine of the Day: As I keep saying, there’s great value for money in Rioja, and even at higher price points, like this one ($35), you can get wines that are world class: the equivalent of a $100 bottle of Bordeaux.

This Rioja, had with my first T-bone dinner since I returned (Monday, with second half consumed Tuesday), is from R. Lopez Heredia, and the bottling is in the review below. Note the grape composition, typical of Rioja, and the fact that it was aged in oak for six years before bottling. Robert Parker gives it a tremendous score of 95, and you can see other laudatory reviews here and here.  I knew the wine would be good if properly aged? Had it been? Yes, and it has years to go. Parker review below:

The red flagship 2006 Viña Tondonia Reserva was inspired by the vineyards of the Médoc but produced with local grapes, 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, which achieved 13% alcohol in 2006. It always matures in used American oak barriques for some six years. The oldest of all the reds I tasted, it was also the one with more freshness, which speaks to the quality of the vineyard. This takes the lion’s share of the 400,000 bottles the winery produces, with some 220,000 bottles filled over a period of 12 consecutive days in May 2014

This was a spectacular bottle (sadly, my last, though I have a 2010). I decanted it because I expected a sediment, but there wasn’t any. The aroma of spice and fruit (cherries at first) leaped from the glass, and I had to ration myself. After dinner, I poured myself a glass, put it by my chair, and sipped it occasionally while reading. It just got better and better over two hours, and eventually assumed a fragrance of strawberries. It was smooth but robust: a great specimen of the heavy genre of Riojas. I was very sad to take the last sip, but as I write this on Tuesday, I have half a bottle left. Stay tuned. . .

The second half was marginally worse than the first, as the fruit had attenuated a bit and the tannins relatively more dominant. It was still a great tipple, but yesterday’s ration palpably better. Is this wine worth the money? To me it surely was, but your mileage may vary.

Stuff that happened on April 13 includes:

Do you know the “five Ks”—the five items that all pious Sikhs must wear at all times? If not, go here.

  • 1742 – George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Messiah makes its world premiere in Dublin, Ireland.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces.
  • 1873 – The Colfax massacre, in which more than 60 black men are murdered, takes place.
  • 1943 – World War II: The discovery of mass graves of Polish prisoners of war killed by Soviet forces in the Katyń Forest Massacre is announced, causing a diplomatic rift between the Polish government-in-exile in London and the Soviet Union, which denies responsibility.

For years the Soviet Union blamed this on the Germans, but finally admitted it in 2004, but denying it was a war crime. Over 22,000 people were killed. Here’s a view of the exhumed bodies:

Sometimes I wonder how long it will be until they tear this memorial down. I used to walk there (a several hour hike) from my childhood home in Arlington, Virginia.

Here’s a short video report about Van Cliburn and his win, and the entire final concert (Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1;38 minutes) is on YouTube (no video) here.  Van Cliburn was only 23.

Here’s Poitier getting his Oscar: he gives a short speech and tears up a bit. Thankfully, there’s no mention of being “a credit to my race”.

Why don’t we see more of these bills. They would be useful!

  • 1997 – Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament.

Here’s a documentary of Woods’s victory: he was ust 21, but won by 12 shots.

The bomb (below) was called MOAB, which stood for GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, but that’s been modified to “Mother of All Bombs”:

And look at this blast when it was dropped in Afghanistan. You can see a test video of the bomb as it was dropped with the help of a parachute at this site.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1519 – Catherine de’ Medici, Italian-French wife of Henry II of France (d. 1589)
  • 1570 – Guy Fawkes, English soldier, member of the Gunpowder Plot (probable; d. 1606)
  • 1743 – Thomas Jefferson, American lawyer and politician, 3rd President of the United States (d. 1826)

Here’s one image of what Jefferson might look like today:

Here he is with the Wikipedia caption “Butch Cassidy poses in the Wild Bunch group photo, Fort Worth, Texas, 1901″

  • 1906 – Samuel Beckett, Irish novelist, poet, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1989)
  • 1906 – Bud Freeman, American saxophonist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1991)
  • 1909 – Eudora Welty, American short story writer and novelist (d. 2001)
  • 1919 – Madalyn Murray O’Hair, American activist, founded American Atheists (d. 1995)
  • 1924 – Jack T. Chick, American author, illustrator, and publisher (d. 2016)

You’ve seen Chick’s anti-evolution and pro-Jesus pamphlets, right? I’ve been given many. A snippet:

Here’s the “evolution professor” getting pwned by a religious student in the most famous Chick cartoon about evolution:

  • 1939 – Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2013)

Those who went to the Great Beyond on April 13 include:

Brady, below, was famous for his appetite, but I still can’t believe he could eat all this stuff. From Wikipedia:

Brady’s enormous appetite was as legendary as his wealth, though modern experts believe it was greatly exaggerated. It was not unusual, according to the legend, for Brady to eat enough food for ten people at a sitting. George Rector, owner of a favorite restaurant, described Brady as “the best 25 customers I ever had”.  For breakfast, he would eat “vast quantities of hominy, eggs, cornbread, muffins, flapjacks, chops, fried potatoes, beefsteak, washing it all down with a gallon of fresh orange juice”. A mid-morning snack would consist of “two or three dozen clams or Lynnhaven oysters”. Luncheon would consist of “shellfish…two or three deviled crabs, a brace of boiled lobsters, a joint of beef, and an enormous salad”. He would also include a dessert of “several pieces of homemade pie” and more orange juice. Brady would take afternoon tea, which consisted of “another platter of seafood, accompanied by two or three bottles of lemon soda”. Dinner was the main meal of the day, taken at Rector’s Restaurant. It usually comprised “two or three dozens oysters, six crabs, and two bowls of green turtle soup. Then in sumptuous procession came six or seven lobsters, two canvasback ducks, a double portion of terrapin, sirloin steak, vegetables, and for dessert a platter of French pastries.” Brady would even include two pounds of chocolate candy to finish off the meal.

Brady (not as fat as I imagined)
  • 1956 – Emil Nolde, Danish-German painter and educator (b. 1867)

Here’s a fine Emil Nolde painting: “Exotic Figures II” (1911)

  • 1993 – Wallace Stegner, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1909)
  • 2015 – Günter Grass, German novelist, poet, playwright, and illustrator, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1927)

Yes, Grass was a member of the Waffen-SS during WWII, but I love his books, and he did spend a lot of his writing trying to get Germany to own up to its Nazi past.

*It’s bad news everywhere—for Ukraine, for America, and for the Democrats and Biden.

*Below the headline from this morning’s NYT about Ukraine, though the top left spot is about the New York subway shooter, who injured 23 (but fortunately killed nobody) in a gun + smoke-grenade attack on a Brooklyn subway Tuesday. there is a “person of interest”, which hasn’t yet been upgraded to “suspect”:

The police on Tuesday evening identified a man they called a “person of interest” in the mass shooting, one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the subway in recent history. The man, Frank R. James, 62, was not named as a suspect, but the authorities said that people should call with any information they had on Mr. James.

The war news; click on screenshot to read:

And the NYT’s summary under that header:

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Wednesday praised President Biden for accusing Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine, describing the remarks as “true words of a true leader,” as investigators accelerated their efforts to collect evidence of alleged Russian atrocities outside Kyiv.

French forensic investigators joined Ukrainian authorities working to exhume bodies from mass graves in the northern town of Bucha, where hundreds were found after Russian forces withdrew, even as Ukraine was bracing for another Russian onslaught in the east.

Satellite images released on Wednesday offered new evidence that Russia is building up troops and military equipment for what analysts say could be a decisive battle in the region, with Russian tanks and artillery units seen moving on a highway near Kharkiv and positioned in fields and farms on the Russian side of the border.

In other news about the war, Biden, as noted above finally called the Russian acts a “genocide”, which it is since its aim is to wipe out Ukrainians, and it’s a genocide committed by a “dictator half a world away.” Them’s strong words, but them’s true words.

*In Afghanistan, the Taliban are busy executing former U.S. allies and government officials, despite their promise to be merciful. Did anybody really believe that then? Yes, some dupes did! They even thought the Taliban would, as they also promised, let women go to school.  Another duping: Iran’s statement that it’s not trying to make a nuclear weapon.

*The rate of inflation in the U.S. hit a four-decade year high using the data from March, with a yearly rate of 8.9%—a number not seen since 1981. I’m sure most Americans, including me, have noticed the rise in prices, and it spells trouble for the Democrats come November.  Biden has blamed it on the Ukraine, but American voters don’t believe that:

A poll released by Rasmussen Reports Monday found a similar trend.

“President Joe Biden’s policies have increased inflation, according to a majority of voters, who expect the issue to be important in November midterm elections,” Rasmussen said. “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 64% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the policies of Biden’s administration have increased inflation, while only eight percent (8%) think Biden’s policies have reduced inflation. Another 25% say the Biden administration’s policies have not made much difference in inflation.”

*I’m not sure whether , given the war and inflation, border issues (assigned to be addressed by VP Kamala Harris, who hasn’t done squat) will play a role in the election, but if it does, it won’t help Democrats. Mark Thiessen, at least agrees. , In a column at the Washington Post called “Biden is turning the border crisis into an outright catastrophe,”

Democrats are poised to lose control of the House and Senate this November in no small part because of the crisis President Biden has unleashed on the southern border. Now, Biden is ready to double down on disaster by lifting Title 42 — the Trump-era public health order that allows border officials to turn away illegal migrants to prevent the spread of covid-19. If Biden does so, he will turn crisis into a catastrophe — both at the border and at the polls.

By lifting Title 42, the Biden administration is trying to have it both ways — declaring the pandemic emergency over for illegal migrants at the border, but not for the rest of us. If the pandemic emergency is over, why are they still insisting we wear masks on planes? Why are all lawful international air passengers still required to get a negative coronavirus test before entering the United States (while illegal border crossers are not)? And why, if the emergency is over, is the Biden administration asking Congress for billions of dollars in emergency covid spending? Democrats need to decide: Either we are in a covid emergency, or we are not.

. . . Biden has created the worst border crisis in U.S. history — and does not seem to care that he is about to make it worse. But voters do. A new Politico-Morning Consult poll finds that 56 percent of voters oppose ending Title 42, making it Biden’s “most unpopular decision so far.” Considering the fact that Biden’s approval is underwater on virtually every issue, that is saying something. And the decision will become even less popular when Americans see the debacle it produces.

I’m not sure whether this will be as big an issue for voters as, say, their pocketbooks (“It’s the economy, stupid”). But it irks me that Kamala Harris has done nothing tangible about this, given me, and many Americans, the idea that Democrats simply don’t care about enforcing immigration policy.

*This is a great idea, and I’m surprised that those wily, world-domineering Jews haven’t thought about it before: create and promulgate a “Palestine Apartheid Week” to advertise which faction is the real “apartheid state.”

A pro-Israel student group is going on the offensive by tabling at multiple campuses across the United States, highlighting systemic discrimination against Jews in Palestinian-controlled territories such as the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the first time ever in what the group is calling “Palestinian Apartheid Week.”

Students Supporting Israel (SSI) has visited three college campuses throughout the country since March 21, highlighting the realities college students rarely confront about the Palestinian-controlled territories.

Issues like salaries paid to the families of Palestinian terrorists for killing Jews as part of a policy called “pay for slay;” the Palestinian Authority making it illegal to sell property to Jews; Jews not being able to openly pray at holy sites in the Palestinian territory unless accompanied by security; erasing the existence of Jews from Palestinian textbooks and maps; as well as Hamas’s charter calling for the killing of all Jews.

Not to mention Jews not being allowed to even live in the Palestinian Territories, much less the discrimination in Palestine (but not Israel) against women, apostates, and gays.

*I recently wrote about new evidence that the ivory-billed woodpecker is still with us. We can’t be even relatively certain, though: a lot more evidence is needed. The Guardian’s experts, though, tend to believe (as do I) that the bird is still with us. I love the last line here:

“No one has held a camera and got a picture of one in years because it’s a scarce bird in tough swampy habitat and they don’t want people close to them because they’ve been shot at for 150 years,” said Geoffrey Hill, a biologist at Auburn University who took part in another, largely frustrating, trip to find the bird in Florida in 2005.

“They have better eyes than we do, they are high in the trees and actively flee people. They aren’t great thinkers but they have developed a pretty simple strategy to avoid people.”

Hill said Latta’s research was “very interesting” and that he thought it likely that the bird pictured is indeed an ivory-billed woodpecker. He added that the FWS was premature to decide the species was extinct and that several dozen could still be holding on in forests across the south.

“Some people cannot believe a bird can defy documentation by modern humans because we have such dominion over nature but it is endlessly interesting because if it has done that, it’s one pretty impressive bird,” Hill said.

“People who are into birds are fascinated by them. Ivory bills couldn’t care less, though. They hate all people.”  (h/t: Trevor).

*From ZME Science: a rare giant bee  has been rediscovered.

While working as a curatorial assistant at the American Museum of Natural History, Eli Wyman learned about a very unusual bee that was presumed to be extinct. The bee, Megachile pluto, also known as Wallace’s giant bee, is a massive unit. It is the largest bee in the world, four times larger than a honeybee and measuring about the length of a human thumb.

Huge mandibles hang like dastardly garden shears from its head. Or, at least, did — the bee hadn’t been seen alive since 1981 and was feared lost. “I just thought ‘someday I’ve got to go to look for this bee.’ It’s a sort of unicorn in the bee world,” Wyman says. “If you love bees, as I do,” he added, “this is the greatest possible adventure to have.”

They organized a small expedition to Indonesia, and then, on the last of five day of looking, found a nest of the giant bee in a termite colony, where these behemoths build a tubular, resin-lined nest. But they’re having trouble getting this rare bee protected by the Indonesian government, and worse: they found a specimen of the bee for sale on eBay!

Worse, knowledge of the bee’s existence lit up a murky corner of the internet that specializes in the trade of rare animals. Shortly after he got back to the U.S., Wyman saw that someone was trying to sell a specimen of the bee on eBay for a few thousand dollars — a tempting lure for the subsistence farmers and fishermen of North Maluku who could get a portion of this relative fortune.

The bee had become something unusual, a sort of rare trophy like an endangered rhino. This sometimes happens with insects: In Germany, a rare beetle named after Adolf Hitler was considered at risk of extinction more than a decade ago due to its soaring popularity as a collector’s item for neo-Nazis.

Here’s a photo of M. pluto next to a European honeybee:

One of the first images of a living Wallace’s giant bee. Megachile pluto is the world’s largest bee, which is approximately 4x times larger than a European honey bee. (Composite). Photo by Clay Bolt.

*Finally, it was warm and sunny yesterday, and the turtles who vanished over the winter came out in force at Botany Pond:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili evinces her usual pessimism:

Hili: I see positive changes.
A: Where?
Hili: Only in the garden.
In Polish:
Hili: Dostrzegam pozytywne zmiany.
Ja: Gdzie?
Hili: Tylko w ogrodzie.

And here’s Karolina from Kyiv, making herself at home chez in Dobrzyn:

Kulka on the front steps:

From Lorenzo the Cat: a d*g fighting for freedom:

From Ginger K.:

From Su and Anna:

Sadly, God is mistaking cultural evolution with biological evolution. He knows better than that!

A tweet from Simon. Oy, are people mixed up about the CDC! Simon calls this “comic relief”, and it is, but these chowderheads also spreading dangerous information.

Barry says, “I wonder what he’s drinking.” My guess is a piña colada:

From Ginger K.: What a clever idea!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:


Tweets from Matthew. This first one shows two people who are like halves of a critical nuclear mass: put them together and POW!

Matthew and I love stoats, and look at this family of seven gamboling about!

It will tear it apart later:

The answer’s in the thread:

Monday: Hili dialogue

April 11, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Monday, April 11, 2022: National Cheese Fondue Day. This is an excellent dish and a lot of fun; I wonder why it’s almost disappeared.


Wine Debacle of the Day: This white burgundy from the Ladoix region, only six years old, had very high ratings and I had very high expectations. It’s all chardonnay, but for $45 it was a bust. The wine was somewhat oxidized, and although drinkable, the sherry-ish flavors caused by the oxidation seriously marred the fruit flavors. I was really upset to find such a young wine, stored at proper temperature, to be off. Maybe it had been exposed to heat before I bought it. Anyway, I’ve had very few white burgundies, and the good ones are seriously great, but this one, well, I’d best forget it. See other people’s laudatory reviews here and here. I’d hate to give up my quest for good white Burgundy, but when you fail, your wallet gets a lot thinner.

Stuff that happened on April 11 include:

A write from the pair led to the founding of The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1693. It’s the second oldest college in the U.S. after Harvard, and the undergraduate alma mater of Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus). Here’s its first building: the famous Wren Building; it’s the only building in North America designed by Christopher Wren. It housed the English Department when I was there, and I had several classes in the building. (Tourists going around Colonial Williamsburg would sometimes wander into our classes.)

  • 1727 – Premiere of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion BWV 244b at the St. Thomas Church, Leipzig
  • 1881 – Spelman College is founded in Atlanta, Georgia as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, an institute of higher education for African-American women.

Here are the founders, Harriet E. Giles and Sophia B. Packard:

Two Buchenwald photos from Wikipedia. This one is labeled “Prisoner of KZ Buchenwald with member of SS personnel after entry of U.S. Army, 1945″:

  • 1951 – The Stone of Scone, the stone upon which Scottish monarchs were traditionally crowned, is found on the site of the altar of Arbroath Abbey. It had been taken by Scottish nationalist students from its place in Westminster Abbey.

First of all, it was also the stone on which ENGLISH monarchs were traditionally crowned as well. Further, we’re not sure that the stone that was returned is the original one, but now it’s going to be located in Perth City Hall, to be used only during future coronations. Here’s how the throne looks with the stone:

  • 1961 – The trial of Adolf Eichmann begins in Jerusalem.
  • 1968 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.

I could show him signing the 1968 bill, but here he is signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only a few hours after the bill was passed. He uses more than a hundred pens! Do read Caro’s 4-volume biography of LBJ; the story of how he bulled the bill through Congress is totally engrossing.

Here’s a photo from Wikipedia, with the caption “Original 1976 Apple I computer in a briefcase. From the Sydney Powerhouse Museum collection.Note audio cassette player inside.

He was a brutal and nasty piece of work, and, in his later years, eccentric. Look at this title (my emphasis):

As the years progressed, Amin’s behaviour became more erratic, unpredictable, and strident. After the United Kingdom broke off all diplomatic relations with his regime in 1977, Amin declared that he had defeated the British, and he conferred on himself the decoration of CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire). His full self-bestowed title ultimately became: “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”, in addition to his officially stated claim of being the uncrowned king of Scotland.

His Excellency, etc.:

  • 2021 – 20 year old Daunte Wright is shot and killed in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota by officer Kimberly Potter, sparking protests in the city, when the officer allegedly mistakes her own gun for her taser.

Notables born on this day include:

Smart, while locked up in a mental hospital, wrote a long poem, Jubilate Agno (“Rejoice in the Lamb”), that contains the best poetry about cats ever written: “For I will Consider my Cat Jeoffry.” You must read it now! Here’s one of its pages:

  • 1925 – Viola Liuzzo, American civil rights activist (d. 1965)
  • 1945 – John Krebs, Baron Krebs, English zoologist and academic

Those who hied themselves underground on April 11 include:

  • 1890 – Joseph Merrick, English man with severe deformities (b. 1862)

He was, of course, nown as “The Elephant Man”, and even now we’re not sure what malady he suffered from.  Here’s an 1889 photo of Merrick with its Wikipedia caption:

Joseph Merrick (1862-1890). The photograph was circulated to members of the public c. 1889 as a Carte de visite. This photograph was first published in The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by Ashley Montagu (first published in London and the United States in 1971; OCLC: 732266137)

. . . and the only surviving letter he wrote:

  • 1926 – Luther Burbank, American botanist and academic (b. 1849)
  • 1985 – Enver Hoxha, Albanian educator and politician, 21st Prime Minister of Albania (b. 1908)
  • 1987 – Erskine Caldwell, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1903)
  • 1987 – Primo Levi, Italian chemist and author (b. 1919)
  • 2007 – Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1922)

Here’s an hourlong biography and interview with Vonnegut filmed in 1983, when he was 61.  He also reads from some of his works:

  • 2017 – J. Geils, American singer and guitarist (b. 1946)

*Today’s NYT banner headline is especially distressing (click to read):

Their news summary:

Ukraine braced on Monday for a renewed Russian assault along its eastern front, even as officials continued to document and expose atrocities committed by Moscow’s forces around the capital of Kyiv, in what a growing number of Western officials claim are war crimes.

Officials in eastern Ukraine warned civilians still living in the region that time was running out to escape, as newly released satellite images showed an eight-mile-long convoy of Russian armored vehicles and trucks with towed artillery moving east of Kharkiv, the nation’s second-largest city,.

“Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state,” Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, told the nation overnight Sunday. “But we are preparing for their actions. We will respond.”

I have a bad feeling about all this. Russia’s getting frustrated at its slow progress, the “Butcher of Syria” is now in charge of the army, and I think Putin wants an end to this, and is willing to do anything to get it.

*It looks like Macron will win the French Presidential elections, despite predictions that he might lose to right-winger Marine Le Pen. In the first round of the multi-candidate election, Macron got 28% of the total vote, Le Pen 23%. Still, it’s closer than liberals (or centrist Macron) would like, and a lot closer than the last election, when Macron came in 30% ahead of Le Pen. The final election will be held April 24.

*Yesterday I wrote about Lizelle Herrera, the 26-year-old who was arrested in Texas and charged with murder after participating in a “self-induced abortion”. The problem for Texas is that the act of which she was accused didn’t appear to violate any state law. The murder charges against Herrera have now been dropped, and the state no longer considers this a “criminal matter”. However, Herrera is still subject to Texas’s new unconstitutional anti-abortion law if she helped someone else in the “self-induced abortion.” But, as I noted, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the Supremes throw the decision back to the states, it’s open season on women:

Her case could be an early sign of what is to come if Roe is overturned, Vladeck said.

When prosecutors charged Herrera, they might have been thinking of a pre-Roe abortion ban that is still on the books in Texas, Vladeck added, but has not been in effect since 1973 because it is unconstitutional under Roe.

Nine states still have pre-Roe bans, which could come back to life depending on what the Supreme Court decides in June.

*Reader Scott reports, via Newsweek, yet another case of a professor disciplined for using the n-word in a didactic way. This time it happened at San Diego State University.

Philosophy and ethics professor J. Angelo Corlett, of San Diego State University (SDSU), was removed from two courses—Philosophy, Racism and Justice, and Critical Thinking and Composition—on March 1, after complaints he used the n-word in a lecture.

Corlett said he used the slur to distinguish between racist language, and racial language; the latter he defined as “the mere ‘mentioning’ of a racial slur, without racist intent.”

In an op-ed published on Sunday in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Corlett said the SDSU dean had received “numerous student complaints” and claimed she told him he was “no longer effective in the course.”

Okay, this is yet another case of entitled student pretending offense, for surely they’re smart enough to distinguish the word used as a slur and didactically to make a point. It’s not rocket science!

*Are the days of repeated covid booster shots nearly over? The Washington Post reports that scientists are turning their attention to a less invasive and possibly more effective strategy: nasal sprays. This stops the virus where it’s most likely to enter the body:

The immunology is complex, but the idea is simple. A puff of droplets up people’s nostrils could provoke “mucosal” immunity — a virus-fighting force embedded in the tissue that lines the airways. The localized protection could stanch transmission and help stifle the next variant.

. .  .the idea is gaining traction. Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University School of Medicine, said that in early 2021, she thought of her nasal vaccine research as preparation for the next pandemic. Then, the omicron variant changed the equation.

“Having seen all these new variants that are so much more transmissible and rendering our vaccines useless for infection prevention — that’s when we realized we may have the chance to contribute something during this pandemic,” Iwasaki said.

There are lots of problems with nasal vaccines, so don’t expect this to happen any time soon. And ask your doctor whether you really need a second booster (for most people, their fourth covid vaccine).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn;

Hili: I’m guarding the new deal.
A: Take care not to exhaust yourself.
In Polish:
IIHili: Pilnuję ładu.
Ja: Uważaj, żebyś się nie zmęczyła.

And a note from Malgorzata about their refugee/guest, 8 year old Karolina. Paulina is the upstairs lodger who’s half the staff of Kulka and 1/4 of the staff of Szaron:

And there is a (not very good) picture of Karolina with her face painted as a cat and another cat on her arm. Paulina took her today to Włocławek to an event for children and Karolina was deliriously happy.
(See picture below.)

Andrzej’s caption: Paulina zabrała dziś Karolinę na zabawę dla dzieci pracowników w jej miejscu pracy i oddała dziecię jak malowane.

Malgorzata’s translation: Today Paulina took Karoline to an event for kids in her place of work and returned the child like a painting.

Cat on the arm!


Reader John sent a swell cat cartoon; click to enlarge:

Source: Imbattable, by Pascal Jousselin

And from another reader, whose email I’ve lost (thanks and sorry):

From Tom:

A pretty funny piece from The Onion:

Yes, Dr. Oz is running in the Republican senatorial primary from Pennsylvania. Reader Simon found this:


From Barry: Canine crypsis:

This came up on the Gmail I get daily with tweets. Otter showing off!

From Ginger K.: a good person.

Tweets from Matthew. This bird builds a nest with a false, blind opening to stymie snakes. The second tweet gives a diagram:

I cannot explain this one:


Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 28, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on arriving at midweek: Wednesday, July 28, 2021: National Hamburger Day (again?) It’s also National Milk Chocolate Day, World Hepatitis Day, and World Nature Conservation Day

Wine of the Day: I see online that this 2016 chardonnay got a near perfect rating from my wine guru Robert Parker, though I probably bought it ($39) based on advice at the store. It’s the premium cuvée of Hartford Court chardonnay, and Parker says this:

Already in bottle, the 2016 Hartford Court Chardonnay Four Hearts Vineyard opens with lemon tart, pink grapefruit, pineapple and ripe apple notes with touches of nutmeg and croissant. Medium to full-bodied, rich and with a pleasantly oily texture, it delivers ripe tropical fruit flavors and a long, creamy finish.

Okay, well let’s try it with chicken and hoisin sauce, rice, and green beans.  And yes, it earned its rating, if for nothing else than its complexity. Any wine with a slight scent and flavor of grapefruit is a wine I like, but there was a lot going on here (though I didn’t detect Parker’s “croissant” flavor). Is it worth $39? If you like superb chardonnays, yes it is.

News of the Day:

Even if you’re vaccinated, it’s time to consider masking up again. The CDC reversed course and recommended that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas where the dreaded delta variant of the virus is pervasive. Which parts? These parts:

The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. That includes 60 percent of U.S. counties, officials said. New case rates are particularly high in the South and Southwest, according to a CDC tracker. In Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, every county has a high transmission rate.

Don’t worry, you’ll find out what your local rules are. This is all the fault of the eligible chowderheads who chose not to get vaccinated (there are 100 million of them out there). Joe Biden is considering requiring all federal workers to get vaccinated, which I think is an excellent move. Surely a lot of vaccination-resistant people work for the government, and they’ll have to choose between their job and their ignorance.

Simone Biles, the one true Olympic superstar this year, left the team competition after she performed (for her) a substandard vault. At first the news suggested that she might be injured, but that doesn’t seem to be the case; she’s now said to be having mental health issues. She’s also withdrawn from the individual all-around competition and might not compete in any individual events at the games (she was favored to win gold in three of those four events. The NYT says it’s “a matter of her mental health”.  The U.S. team, still game, persisted and won the team silver medal, with the Russians taking gold. I can surely sympathize with Biles: she’s the best gymnast in the world, and the pressure to keep on top in the Olympics must affect one’s head.

The New York Times has a 16-minute video about Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who was the real discoverer of pulsars in 1967, even as her Ph.D. advisor, Antony Hewish, repeatedly doubted her results. Nevertheless, when the paper was published, Hewish was first author Bell (her name at the time) was second, and there were three other authors. Hewish, along with Martin Ryle, got the Physics Nobel Prize for the discovery in 1974, and Bell was ignored (she later got a lot of accolades, though). This is one of the most egregious cases of a discoverer being ignored at Nobel Time, but Bell had the grace to say the following:

First, demarcation disputes between supervisor and student are always difficult, probably impossible to resolve. Secondly, it is the supervisor who has the final responsibility for the success or failure of the project. We hear of cases where a supervisor blames his student for a failure, but we know that it is largely the fault of the supervisor. It seems only fair to me that he should benefit from the successes, too. Thirdly, I believe it would demean Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to research students, except in very exceptional cases, and I do not believe this is one of them. Finally, I am not myself upset about it – after all, I am in good company, am I not!

No, it does not demean Nobel Prizes a bit if they were given to research students: they are awarded for discoveries, not the position of the discoverer. At any rate, she is not nearly as kind to Hewish in the video. The video should make you angry at the sexism surrounding this incident (and pervasive in science at the time), but it’s also a well made and informative piece. Watch it.

Every year at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida, they hold a Hemingway Look-Alike contest, with elderly bearded chaps vying to look the most like Ernest Hemingway, who once frequented that bar. This year’s winner is 63-year-old Zach Taylor, an electrical and plumbing supply company owner from Georgia, who beat 136 other entrants on Sunday (previous winners judge each year’s contest).  Here’s a video of the winner and some entrants, though, compared to some of the competitors, I don’t think he looks a whole like like Hemingway. (h/t Jez)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 611,128, an increase of 290 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,194,208, an increase of about 9,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 28 includes:

  • 1540 – Thomas Cromwell is executed at the order of Henry VIII of England on charges of treason. Henry marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the same day.
  • 1821 – José de San Martín declares the independence of Peru from Spain.
  • 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is certified, establishing African American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.
  • 1914 – In the culmination of the July Crisis, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, igniting World War I.
  • 1917 – The Silent Parade takes place in New York City, in protest against murders, lynchings, and other violence directed towards African Americans.

The parade, which was indeed silent save for the beat of muffled drums, was organized by W. E. B. Dubois and instigated by lynchings and by the East St. Louis riots in May and July of that year. 8,000 to 15,000 blacks marched down Fifth Avenue.  Here’s an appropriately silent newsreel from the time:

  • 1932 – U.S. President Herbert Hoover orders the United States Army to forcibly evict the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans gathered in Washington, D.C.

This was a group of 43,000 WWI veterans who were awarded cash certificates for their service, which couldn’t be redeemed until 1945. Because of the depression, they marched on Washington to demand early redemption.  Here is a photo of them camped in front of the Capitol, and then after Hoover’s order of eviction, which drove them away;

Made around 625 A.D., and part of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial, the helmet was found as hundreds of rusted metal fragments, which were painstakingly reconstructed—twice. Here’s the latest reconstruction at the British Museum (you can see the bits that are original):

Here’s a replica showing what the helmet may have looked like. The artistic motifs were actually found in the fragments. The helmet was made from iron, leather, and bronze, but we don’t know who it belonged to, or who was part of the ship burial.

The plane struck the building after becoming lost in the fog. One of the injured was a badly burned woman who was transported down in an elevator, suffering a double accident (from Wikipedia):

Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver was thrown from her elevator car on the 80th floor and suffered severe burns. First aid workers placed her on another elevator car to transport her to the ground floor, but the cables supporting that elevator had been damaged in the incident, and it fell 75 stories, ending up in the basement. Oliver survived the fall but had a broken pelvis, back and neck when rescuers found her amongst the rubble. This remains the world record for the longest survived elevator fall.

Here’s a photo of the plane embedded in the building, which opened for business only two days after the collision:

I was there! And I got to hear the the Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers (I’ve since heard the last two again.

  • 2005 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army calls an end to its thirty-year-long armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.

Notables born on this day were few, and include:

  • 1844 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet (d. 1889)
  • 1866 – Beatrix Potter, English children’s book writer and illustrator (d. 1943)

My favorite Beatrix Potter Book:

Those who rested in peace on July 28 include:

  • 1741 – Antonio Vivaldi, Italian violinist and composer (b. 1678)
  • 1750 – Johann Sebastian Bach, German organist and composer (b. 1685)
  • 1968 – Otto Hahn, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1879)
  • 1996 – Roger Tory Peterson, American ornithologist and academic (b. 1908)
  • 2004 – Francis Crick, English biologist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1916)

One of the smartest scientists of our era:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains Hili’s actions: “Hili has heard about a scapegoat but she didn’t get the meaning. She thinks it’s an exotic animal and she wants to see it.”

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m waiting for a scapegoat.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Czekam na kozła ofiarnego.

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe, a smackdown between Popeye and God, both claiming that they am what they am:

Another superfluous sign from reader David:

From Jesus of the Day:

A tweet from reader Ken, with some explanation:

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, perhaps the most loathsome opportunist in the House of Representatives. She ran as a moderate in 2014, but fell in line behind Donald Trump in 2016, and burrowed ever deeper down the rabbit hole the longer Trump remained in office.

When Liz Cheney was stripped of her Republican leadership position for having the temerity to criticize Trump after the January 6th insurrection, Stefanik maneuvered to replace her as Republican Conference Chair. Here she is blaming the January 6th riot on, of all goddamn people, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

A tweet from Divy with a seacat’s passport. I’m not sure how authentic it is, but I’ve found it in a couple of places (that, of course, doesn’t establish authenticity):

From Barry. Why is an alpaca walking into a Chinese restaurant? It’s almost too cute to be real.

From Ginger K.:

Tweets from Matthew:

Is this a big cat, a small boy, or both?

A funny riposte to a biology tweet. (The humpbacked scaly bee fly is a dipteran with a characteristic hump-backed posture, and probably mimics a bumblebee.)

And this should make you skeptical of all those fantastically colored animals you see on the Internet. This is the Indian Giant Squirrel (also known as the Malabar Giant Squirrel), Ratufa indica. Other pictures of the species online aren’t nearly as colorful, and I suspect Avinash is right. But this could be an unusually bright individual. . . .

Monday: Hili dialogue

December 7, 2020 • 6:30 am

It’s a Monday in December—December 7, 2020—and could things be bleaker? It’s National “Have a Bagel” Day, and I’m baffled by those scare quotes. Are we supposed to just pretend we had a bagel? It’s also National Cotton Candy Day (the confection called “candy floss” in the UK), Letter Writing Day (when is the last time you wrote a real letter, one with a signature and a stamped envelope?), and, of course, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, memorializing the day in 1941 when the Japanese attacked the U.S. If you’re a Scientologist (and you shouldn’t be one), it’s also Flag Land Base Day.

Wine of the Day. My tipple last night: a lovely Oregon Pinot Noir—juicy, a tad off-dry, and redolent of raspberries and cherries. A bargain, too.

Dream of the Day: Last night I dreamed that I was in a small airport (it looked like LaGuardia) and I had to catch a plane overseas (I don’t remember the destination). I do remember that the plane was at Gate A4, and I was late, with the plane due to take off any minute. I ran all around the airport but couldn’t find Gate A4; all the gates were labeled “B”s. Then I woke up.

News of the Day:

With the century only 20% finished, the New Woke Times, apparently desperate for articles, enlists film critics Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott to list “The 25 greatest actors of the 21st century (so far)” In a separate pie, they offer an inside look at the list, explaining why people like Meryl Streep weren’t chosen. But Melissa McCarthy was? Give me a break! Their list of 25 best films, from 2017, is substantially better, but give me another break; it also includes “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which I found unwatchable. Their encomia include:

We took to Facebook to find the best action movie of the 21st century and what resulted was, in part, a philosophical debate. What, exactly, counts as an action movie in this era of hyperactive digital special effects? Are superhero franchises automatically action movies? What about kid-oriented fantasy adventures? The Jason Bourne movies? The rebooted “Star Trek” or “Planet of the Apes” series?

Tough questions! And while film scholars may differ, our standards are fairly inclusive. There needs to be a lot of chasing, and a lot of stuff has to blow up. That can happen in outer space, in Gotham, at Hogwarts, on the freeways of Los Angeles or in whatever global capital poor Jason Bourne happens to be running through when his enemies catch sight of him.

They discredit themselves immediately: “We took to Facebook  to find the best action movie of the 21st century. . . ” OY!  A lot of chasing and stuff blowing up. That makes a great movie???

Over at the NYT, Dolly Parton talks books. Sadly, although her music is great, her tastes in reading aren’t that edifying:

What books are on your night stand?

The Bible, of course; a daily devotional book; and a charming book called “The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig.

What’s the last great book you read?

You know I am shameless and am always selling something so of course the answer is my new book, “Dolly Parton, Songteller,” in stores everywhere! LOL!

LOL indeed. . . .

Meanwhile, after the Devil went down to Georgia and kvetched about how his election as President was real but stolen, state Republican officials became upset because they think Trump’s beef will hurt the chances of the two Republican candidates up for Senate seats in January. After all, if the state elections are rigged against the GOP, why would Republicans bother to vote?

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 282,313, an increase of about 1,100 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,542,908, an increase of about 7,000 over yesterday’s report.

Stuff that happened on December 7 include:

  • 1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, makes landfall. Winds gust up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people die.
  • 1732 – The Royal Opera House opens at Covent Garden, London, England.
  • 1787 – Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.
  • 1842 – First concert of the New York Philharmonic, founded by Ureli Corelli Hill.
  • 1930 – W1XAV in Boston, Massachusetts telecasts video from the CBS radio orchestra program, The Fox Trappers. The telecast also includes the first television commercial in the United States, an advertisement for I.J. Fox Furriers, who sponsored the radio show.
  • 1932 – German-born Swiss physicist Albert Einstein is granted an American visa.

Here’s Einstein and his wife Elsa on their first trip to the US—in 1920:

Here’s a scene from the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor depicting the attack; I saw the movie and it was pretty crappy, but this gives you an idea what the raid was like.  The damage was severe (from Wikipedia):

 Of the eight U.S. Navy battleships present, all were damaged, with four sunk. All but USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. A total of 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, dry dock, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed. Kazuo Sakamaki, the commanding officer of one of the submarines, was captured

Here’s Roosevelt’s declaration of war the next day:

  • 1963 – Instant replay makes its debut during the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
  • 1972 – Apollo 17, the last Apollo moon mission, is launched. The crew takes the photograph known as The Blue Marble as they leave the Earth.

Here’s that photo (the original was upside down, but of course we all know the way the Earth is aligned!):

  • 1982 – In Texas, Charles Brooks, Jr., becomes the first person to be executed by lethal injection in the United States.

Notables born on this day include:

Bernini’s masterpiece: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa:

Schwann, along with Matthias Schleiden, were responsible for promulgating the “cell theory” of plants and animals: that all structures were made of cells: the units of organismal structure.

  • 1873 – Willa Cather, American novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1947)
  • 1928 – Noam Chomsky, American linguist and philosopher

Chomsky is 92 today. The last time I saw him, about two years ago in Puebla, Mexico, he looked a bit frail and was walking with assistance, but his mind (evidenced by his talk) was as sharp as ever.

  • 1942 – Harry Chapin, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1981)
  • 1951 – Robert Mears, American retired financial expert, amateur fixer of broken stuff, and my brother in law
  • 1956 – Larry Bird, American basketball player and coach

Those who “fell asleep” on December 7 include:

  • 1817 – William Bligh, English admiral and politician, 4th Governor of New South Wales (b. 1745)

Yes, that Bligh.

  • 1902 – Thomas Nast, German-American cartoonist (b. 1840)
  • 1962 – Kirsten Flagstad, Norwegian opera singer (b. 1895)
  • 1970 – Rube Goldberg, American cartoonist, sculptor, and author (b. 1883).

Here’s Goldberg at the drawing board, showing his machines and then touting gasoline and its use in automobiles. Gasoline, of course, is not “nothing” but a fossil fuel that can be depleted.

  • 1985 – Robert Graves, English poet, novelist, critic (b. 1895)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili objects to being weighed. Malgorzata reports that the Princess has gotten quite chubby this fall. The weighing was unsuccessful as Hili struggled and managed to escape.

We have to weigh you.
Hili: This is misogyny.
In Polish:
Ja: Trzeba cię zważyć.
Hili: To jest mizoginia.

Here’s little Kulka standing bipedally on the roof of the veranda (photo by Paulina):

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe,“I got nuttin, Pat”:

From Divy:

From Facebook; wouldn’t a cat have sufficed?

From reader Barry, a lovely marine flatworm:

From Luana, who sent this in response to yesterday’s post on all the black people killed by black shooters. Leonydus Johnson has put up a gallery (read the thread) of black kids shot by accident. Here are two:


I got this tweet from so many readers that, although I’ve posted it before, I’ll put it up again. As Matthew said, “Can’t see this too often.” Who said ducks were dumb?

I challenge all the male readers not to hold their scrotum when they watch this:

Tweets from Matthew. Olbermann really can’t stand Trump! What newsman calls him “The Devil”?

This is a good one:

Hard to believe an amateur took this video. What kind of telescope does he have?

In Austria, Krampus scans your groceries on Krampusnacht (yesterday):


Wine recommendations for the pandemic

November 15, 2020 • 2:30 pm

I’ve accumulated quite a stock of wine over the past years, and, during lockdown, decided I wasn’t going to save my best bottles for wine-loving visitors, as I usually do, but would drink them myself, both as a treat and because nobody comes to visit during a pandemic. And wines don’t improve forever.

Assaying my supply, which must be forty cases or so, I found a number of whites that, in general, don’t age as well as reds. So I wound up drinking a lot of whites this spring and summer, and found, to my delight, that the Spanish and Argentinian whites I’d bought (Latinx wines?) had one of the highest quality/price ratios among all wines. (You’ll find such high ratios among Spanish sherries as well, and also among Riojas, though people are starting to discover the delights of a nicely aged Rioja.)

I won’t recommend specific brands, but will link to several varietals I’ve tried from my steady supplier, Vin Chicago (previously known as the Wine Discount Center). The three types of wines below are varietals, and they have in common a wonderful fruity aroma (one smelled just like grapefruit) and a fairly low price. You’d be hard pressed to pay a lot more more than $20 for a really good bottle of any of these.

I’ll give the varietals with a link to the Wikipedia page and then to a specimen or two from my own store:

Rueda (an example here, and recommendations here)

Torrontés (an example here). This is made largely in Argentina; some recommendations are here.

Albariño (two examples here, and some recommendations here).

Some of these wines have aging potential, though you’d best inquire before laying them down. One of the best wines I had this summer, for example, was a 2014 Albariño, which I thought had surely gone over the hill. It hadn’t: it had improved with aging.

Remember, there are great and not-so-great examples of each varietal. Either read about specific bottles or ask the people at the wine store before trying something you’ve never had.